Lesson of the Month #14 (11/97)

For safety and best results, read instructions before doing lessons!

Waking the Spine

Creates a basic vocabulary of flexion and extension, and forms the basis for standing, walking, bending, and reaching

Works with:
Balancing flexors and extensors, extending range of motion of hips, creating a sense of length in the entire body, and establishing a sense of ease.

1. Lie on your back on the floor, and bend your knees so your feet are standing comfortably, and your arms are on the floor beside you. Notice how your body feels against the floor...then begin a slow tilting of your pelvis, so that your waist presses into the floor a little, and then moves away from the floor a little...repeat it a number of times, perhaps linking the movement with your breath...and then stop the movement and rest.

2. Put your hands under your waist, palm down, and again have your feet standing under your knees...continue tilting your pelvis as before, and notice how this is now with the feedback from your hands clarifying what your body is doing...rest.

3. Leave your right hand behind your waist, perhaps with the fingers extending down under the sacroiliac joint (the "dimple" on the right lower back)...extend your legs, and leave your left arm on the floor somewhere beside you...from that position repeat a movement of rolling your right leg to the right, bending the right knee, and sliding the knee out to the right dragging the foot behind it on the floor toward your hip, until it is comfortable to bring the knee up over the foot...your pelvis will tilt down and roll to the right, and you will feel the weight shifting over your right hand, like a ball rolling right and down...then from there let the knee fall out toward the floor on the right, and reverse it sliding the foot back down, again feeling what happens over your right hand...repeat it several times, exploring the movement...you begin both the upward and downward movements of the foot by tilting the pelvis down and taking the knee out to the right near or on the floor...and then stretch out and rest.

4. Continue the same movement of the right leg as #3, but now put your left hand behind your head, and your right arm alongside...repeat it this way several times, feeling how your left side and head are involved...then bring your left foot to standing, and with your right leg stretched out on the floor, many times roll your pelvis to the right to lift the left side of your pelvis off the floor...your left knee stays more or less over the left foot...then let go of that and repeat the movement of #3, while keeping the left foot standing...you keep your left knee over your left foot, mor or less, as you roll your pelvis to the right...your right knee opens out onto the floor to the right, and you bring the right knee up over the right foot (so both feet are standing)...then you roll the pelvis to the right, extend the right leg and slide the foot back down, straightening the leg...explore it many times...then stretch out and rest.

5. Repeat #3 and #4 on the other side.

6. On your back, legs stretched out, arms resting on the floor comfortably, roll pelvis right, and drag the right foot out to the side to stand, then return it, roll left, and drag the left foot to standing...go back and forth, feeling how your pelvis rolls and tilts...let it go and rest.

7. On your back, feet standing a few inches apart, knees close together, perhaps with a thin pillow or folded towel between your knees...gently press the knees together several times...then move the towel to mid-thigh and squeeze several times...then move it close to your pubic bone and squeeze several times, noticing that your pelvis tilts up as you do that...remove the towel and continue the same movement...when your pubic bone is tilted up, press your feet into the floor and lift your pelvis up away from the floor, vertebra by vertebra, the weight shifting upward toward your shoulders...repeat it several times...and rest.

8. On back, feet standing, fingers interlaced behind your head...lift head from floor several times...then head on floor, lift pelvis several times, feeling weight move up toward shoulders...alternate lifting head, then pelvis...then lift both head and pelvis from floor, and rock so first head comes toward floor, and then pelvis...your body becomes a rocker, and you rock back and forth...rest.

9. On back, feet standing, arms stretched loosely toward ceiling...slowly drop arms toward floor overhead while your lift pelvis off the floor and roll weight of your body toward your shoulders...then lower pelvis, and let arms come back to overhead...repeat it many times, feeling how your chest, back, and shoulders learn to accommodate the movement, your arms getting closer to the floor each time, with less effort..explore how to coordinate the movement with your breath...repeat it a number of times, and then rest.

10. Same movement again...how high (if at all) must you lift your pelvis off the floor so that your arms can rest passively and comfortably on the floor overhead?...repeat the sequence several times, and then rest.

11. Same movement, this time stay with your pelvis high in the air, your arms resting on the floor overhead...gently explore a movement of rolling your face to the right and extending your left arm overhead along the floor, then rolling your face left and extending the right arm overhead on the floor...it gives you a nice easy stretch...you roll just enough to free the shoulder for movement, and your head rolls away from the reaching arm...go gently from side to side...you begin to sense that you could walk your shoulders on the floor this way...and let it go and rest.

12. Feet standing, arms at sides, palms down...tilt your pelvis so waist presses the floor...that's six o'clock...then lift your pelvis into the air and press your arms into the floor to move your weight further up toward your shoulders...that's twelve o'clock...now go back and forth several times from six to twelve...rest a few moments...and then explore movements that carry your weight around clockwise, past three on the left and nine on the right...do it mindfully, with awareness...and a few times counterclockwise...and stretch out and rest.

13. Feet standing, interlace fingers behind head, lift pelvis from floor, and stay there...then roll weight toward left shoulder and look up toward left elbow...then to the right and look up toward right elbow...go back and forth...you'll find that you can walk your shoulders away from your feet a few steps like that, and then walk them back...your back arches with each roll, and your pelvis moves from side to side in space...let yourself down gently, stretch out and notice how this feels, in and against your body, and in the quality of your breath. Roll to your side, stand up, and walk around, mindful of your experience of yourself. Notice how this affects your standing and walking over the next few days.